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These udon noodles with ponzu and brown butter sauce are one of my favorite recent creations. It’s amazingly simple and takes almost no effort to throw together. There are certain words that I really don’t like to use to describe food; they’re overused and cliche. But sometimes, there’s just no other appropriate way to describe something. So I’m going to break one of my own unwritten rules and come out and say it – unctuous. That’s the only way that I can describe these fat, slippery noodles that are lightly coated in a buttery, citrusy sauce.

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The ponzu and brown butter sauce is incredibly rich and fills your mouth with a rounded flavor. Red peppers and green onions add color to the dish as well as pierce through the richness of the sauce to make the dish seem light on the palate. The noodles themselves are so rich that you don’t need much steak in this dish, but it does deserve a special mention. A quick marinade of sesame oil, ponzu, and ginger imparts tons of flavor. A quick kiss by a hot pan will cook the steak perfectly, making it so tender that you barely need to chew it.

If you have leftovers, they are delicious served chilled or at room temperature. If you’d rather have them heated, heat the noodles and peppers separately from the steak. Stir the steak in at the very end and allow the heat from the noodles to bring it up to temperature so that it doesn’t overcook and become tough.

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Udon with Ponzu and Brown Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 pound chuck steak
  • 2 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup plus 1 Tbs ponzu sauce
  • 1Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs grated ginger
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 1.5 Tbs butter
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Make the marinade: In a small metal bowl, combine the rice vinegar , 1 Tbs ponzu, 1 Tbs sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cut the steak into very thin slices, and add to the marinade. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare your noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles cook, heat a large frying pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a little bit of sesame oil, then cook the peppers for about three minutes – they should be cooked, but still crisp. Remove the peppers from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the burner. Add the steak. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter to the pan and heat until it is melted. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the butter turns light golden-brown. Slowly whisk in the remaining ponzu sauce. Reduce by half.

Drain the noodles, then toss with the brown butter and ponzu sauce and the peppers. Top with steak and garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and orange zest.

Serves 4.